Monday, May 14, 2007

Iraq snapshot

Monday, May 14, 2007.  Chaos and violence continue, 3 US service members remain missing since Saturday, more US service members are announced dead, war resisters continue speaking out, Amy Goodman addresses the realities for Iraqi women, and more.
On Saturday an attack took place outside Mahmudiya.  Damien Cave (New York Times) reported: "A cooridnated attack on seven American soldiers an Iraqi Army interpreter Saturday morning south of Baghdad left five of them dead and three missing".  Initial reports, based on what the US military was saying, included that five US service members were killed.  The US military corrected this on Sunday: 4 US soldiers died as did 1 Iraqi translator.  Three US soldiers are still missing. Scott Canon (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that approximately 4,000 US service members were searching for the 3 missing soldiers on Sunday. Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) reports that at least one of the five dead had "gunshot woundes, though it was unclear whether he was shot before or after blasts enveloped the soldiers' two vehicles in flames, said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a military spokesman."  Joshua Partlow (Washington Post) notes that the group was "parked in two Humvees in an area 12 miles west of Mahmudiyah" when the attack took place with "a roadside bomb . . . followed by gunfire, officials said.  The two vehicles went up in flames and were spotted 15 minutes later by a surveillance drone, after a nearby unit that heard explosions could not make contact with the Humvees. The extent of the damage made it difficult to identify the slain soldiers."  Stephen Farrell and Tom Baldwin (Times of London) note that the Islamic State in Iraq has claimed, via a website, responsibility for the raid and that they have the three missing US soldiers.  Scott Canon (McClatchy Newspapers) noted that the grop has "offered no proof". CBS and AP report that the group claiming to have the three American soldiers issued a warning: "'If you want their safety do not look for them,' the Islamic State of Iraq said on a militant web site.  'You should remember what you have done to our sister Abeer in the same area,' the statement said, referring to five American soldiers who were charged in the rape and killing of 14-year-old Abeer Qassim al-Janabi and the killings of her parents and her younger sister last year.  Three soldiers have pleaded guilty in the case."  AFP notes that, in June of last year, two US soldiers were captured and their "bodies . . . were later found outside a power station south of Baghdad, mutilated and bearing signs of torture."  That attack was also seen as resulting from the gang-rape and murder of Abeer in Mahmoudiyah on March 12, 2006 and, as Gregg Zoroya (USA Today) reported last September, Justin Watt came forward with what he was hearing about Abeer and her family when the June attack on US soldiers took place.  Though the statement put up by the group claiming to have the 3 missing US soldiers is cited often in part, most outlets have avoided noting the mention of Abeer.  (But then many avodied reporting on the Article 32 hearing last August or much that has happened since.  As CBS and AP noted, 3 US soldiers have confessed to their part.  Steven D. Green, who has been portrayed as the ringleader in press accounts as well as the testimonies of those who have pleaded guilty, maintains he is innocent.)  Julie Rawe and Aparisim Ghosh (Time) reported last June, "Abeer's brother Mohammed, 13, told TIME he once watched his sister, frozen in fear, as a U.S. soldier ran his index finger down her cheek.  Mohammed has since learned that soldier's name: Steven Green."
The three soldiers bring the total who are missing in Iraq to 5.  In April 23, 2004 Keith Matt Maupin went from "whereabouts unknown to captured."  Maupin (who answered to Matt) went missing on April 9, 2004. Ahmed Qusai al-Taie went missing in October of 2006 when he left the Green Zone to visit Israa Abdul-Satar (whom he'd married three months prior). 
Also missing, Shashank Bengali (McClatchy Newspapers) reports, are an estimated 15,000 "while government officials say 40 to 60 people disappeared each day throughout the country for much of last year, a rate equal to at least 14,600 in one year.  What happened to them is a frustrating mystery that compounds Iraq's overwhelming sense of chaos and anarchy.  Are they dead?  Were they kidnapped of killed in some mass bombing?  Is the Iraqi government or some militia group holding them?  Were they taken prisoner by the United States, which is holding 19,000 Iraqis at its two main detention centers, at Camp Cropper and Camp Bucca?"  Bengali zooms in on Sahira Kereem whose husband Riyadh Juma Saleh has been missing for "nearly three years" and Sahira has had little luck locating him herself, though she has repeatedly searched the prisoner records maintained by the US; however, a friend working with "the U.S. military at Camp Cropper" stated he found Sahira's husband in the data base.  The US military asserts that they maintain only one listing of prisoners.  Apparently the whole off the books and keep them hidden even from the Red Cross exposures never happened?
On Democracy Now! today, Amy Goodman spoke with Yanar Mohammed (Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq) about the realities of life for women in Bully Boy's 'liberated' Iraq,
"Honor killing is becoming something to celebrate in Iraq now, and this did not happen before the last years that we expereienced in the post-war Iraq. . . .  So what happened in this new Iraq, the so-called liberation of Iraq has turned women into refugees inside their country.  Millions of us are vulnerable to be killed, and all our lives are threatened, and there is nobody to secure our lives for us. . . .  So by constitution, we have lost our rights.  Honor killings are on the rise.  Kidnappings of women are getting more now.  Our organization's work proves that human trafficking is still risking, and not much is being done about it. And when you look at the situation, it's as if the country was occupied and later on handed down to the extremists who were responsible of the 9/11.  Why are all the TV outlets given to Islamists?  Where are the democrats?  Why aren't they being supported?  Where are the seculars?  Why are the women's groups not being supported?"  Yanar Mohammed stated US troops needed to leave Iraaq "right away." 
Amy Goodman: So paint a picture for us, if you will.  What would happen in Iraq then, if the US troops were to leave today?
Yanar Mohammed: Well, I'm not saying it's going to be paradise right away, but the idea is that we are having all these Jihadis coming to Iraq, because there is this magnet, which is the US troops in there.  For them, this is the biggest evil that they are coming to fight.  And if these troops leave the country and all of them leave the country, there isn't much reason to come to Iraq anymore."
As Amy Goodman noted, Yanar Mohammed is featured in Bay Fang's "The Talibanization of Iraq" (Ms. magazine, spring 2007 issue, on sale now). 
In today's violence . . .
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing that killed one person and left 13 injured, 2 Baghdad car bombings that killed 2 and left 7 wounded, another Baghdad car bmobing that killed 2 Iraqi soldiers and left 4 more wounded,
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Iraqi police said that a child was killed by American soldiers when they opened fire on a house in Al sajla neighborhood close to Dujail town north of Baghdad yesterday evening.  The source added that the shooting caused the death of some cows and sheep."  In addition Hammoudi report a man shot dead in Balad, 2 people shot dead "on Tikrit-Kirkuk motorway" (2 more wounded), 3 shot dead in Khirnabat, 3 police officers shot dead in Baquba, and, in Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer was shot dead.
Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 18 corpses were discovered in Baghdad.  Reuters notes 5 corpses were discovered in Mosul.
In addition, today the US military announced: "Two Soldiers were killed and four wounded when their dismounted patrol came under small arms fire southeast of Baghdad today."  Reuters reports two more US deaths: "A U.S. airman was killed and three others were wounded by a roadside bomb in southern Baghdad, the U.S. military said. . . A U.S. soldier was killed and four others were wounded by a roadside bomb in northern Baghdad, the U.S. military said."  Reuters puts the total count of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war at 3,398.
AFP reports that a Danish soldier died today in Basra and that he was the seventh Danish soldier to die in the illegal war.
In other news from 'free' and 'liberated' and 'democratic' Iraq, CNN reports that the country's Interior Ministry has "banned the media from showing the aftermath of bombings" in the latest war on the press.  Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted today: "Iraqi officials say the measure is meant to protect evidence, hide victims and deny attackers information they achieved their goals. The Iraqi government has already come under wide criticism for a series of limits on news coverage inside Iraq."
Though there's no known ban on reporting about the topic of war resistance, many act as if there is.  One who does not is Amanda Schoenberg (Register-Pajaronian) who reports on Pablo Paredes decision to resist the illegal war by refusing "to board the USS Bonhomme Richard" in Mayy of 2005.  Paredes tells Schoenberg, "I drew the line in the sand figuratively, but I hadn't faced deployment.  There it stared me in the face -- it forced me to reflect much deeper than I had before. . . . I am convinced that the current war in Iraq is illegal.  I am also convinced that the true causality for it lacked any high ground in the topography of morality.  I believe as a member of the Armed Forces, beyond having a duty to my chain of command and my president, I have a higher duty to my conscience and to the supreme law of the land."
Paredes has teamed up with Camilo Mejia, whose Road from Ar Ramaid: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia covers his own resistance, Agustin Aguayo and Robert Zabala for the speaking out tour:

Monday May 14 - Watsonville
7pm at the United Presbyterian Church, 112 E. Beach, Watsonville. Featuring Agustin Aguayo, Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and Robert Zabala. Sponsored by the GI Rights Hotline & Draft Alternatives program of the Resource Center for Nonviolence (RCNV), Santa Cruz Peace Coalition, Watsonville Women's International League for Peace & Freedom (WILPF), Watsonville Brown Berets, Courage to Resist and Santa Cruz Veterans for Peace Chp. 11. More info: Bob Fitch 831-722-3311

Tuesday May 15 - Palo Alto
7 PM at the First Presbyterian Church (Fellowship Hall), 1140 Cowper, Palo Alto. Featuring Camilo Mejia. Sponsored by Pennisula Peace and Justice Center. More info: Paul George 650-326-8837

Wednesday May 16 - Eureka
7pm at the Eureka Labor Temple, 840 E St. (@9th), Eureka. Featuring Camilo Mejia. More info: Becky Luening 707-826-9197

Thursday May 17 - Oakland
4pm youth event and 7pm program at the Humanist Hall, 411 28th St, Oakland. Featuring Camilo Mejia, Pablo Paredes and the Alternatives to War through Education (A.W.E.) Youth Action Team. Sponsored by Veteran's for Peace Chp. 69, Courage to Resist, Central Committee for Conscientious Objector's (CCCO) and AWE Youth Action Team.

Friday May 18 - Berkeley
7pm at St. Joseph the Worker featuring Camilo Mejia.

US war resisters are part of a growing movement of war resistance within the military: Camilo Mejia, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Joshua Key, Augstin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, forty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.
Finally, in Australia, Jill Singer (Herald-Sun) takes on the former 'rising star' Brendann Nelson, the country's Defence Minister, who, himself and his office, bungled things repeatedly in two deaths causing intense pain for the families involved and yet Brendy now seems to think no one noticed.  Singer notes his chest puffing, braying, the money spent on the illegal war and "Need we remind our little Lord Nelson of the cost incurred over his shodding handling of Private Jake Kovco's death as well as the emotional cost to the Kovco family because of Nelson's ill-informed and inconsistent utterances after Kovco's death.  Then there is the second board of inquiry into the death at sea of Australian army Captain Paul Lawton. After weeks of hearings, the first inquiry was abandoned because of legal proceedings in the Federal Court.  All on Brendan Nelson's hapless watch."  Paul Lawton passed away on August 31st of last year.  His family has been as harmed as the Kovco family by the actions of Brendan Nelson who has remained in his post despite the sort of lengthy pattern of mismangement (if not abuse) that should have had him offering his resignation long ago.

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